The Rule of Food
I do not have a correct relationship with food and at this point it feels like I’m not capable of ever forming one. After many years of serious attempts to manage my weight and health, this is becoming obvious. And while I have made headway, ultimately, this relationship needs to change if I am to actually meet the goals I’ve set for myself.
I comfort eat, and I eat when I’m bored. My personal circumstances are far too inane to go into detail but suffice it to say that I comfort-eat and boredom-eat quite a lot. In summer I can usually motivate myself to exercise enough to at least counter it, but in winter that battle is over before it has begun. I don’t like cooking, I intensely dislike vegetables, I crave sugar, fats, and carbs, and if I don’t constantly watch myself I can drink too much. These are habits I have tried to break free from, but they seem to be built into me at a quite fundamental level. “Everything in moderation” is not a saying that applies to me. I can avoid completely, or I can overeat, but I cannot portion-control, and I cannot have occasional treats. I can never have just a glass of wine, once the bottle is open it has to be finished. The only other option is to never go near wine. I just have that kind of personality. (I daren’t take up baking, that would just be the end of me.) I need to find a different way to manage my relationship with food, and more and more I’m thinking that the best way might be to avoid it almost completely.
For a while now I’ve been looking into the area of food replacements. The first one I came across was Soylent and that piqued my interest. U.S.-only for the time being, it is open-source and variants of it have sprung up for sale in the U.K. But recently a British-made brand has come to my attention, not based off the Soylent platform but similar to it, called Huel. (All of these food-replacements are basically powdered food that you mix with water, containing all the vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, fats and fibre that you need in a day to build and maintain a healthy body.) Huel, like Soylent and its duplicates, is relatively cheap on a per-meal basis (compared to the food I eat now), it’s quick to make, leaves next to no mess in its wake and is nutritionally complete. It’s also vegan, low-GI and almost gluten-free. On nutrition alone it is a massive upgrade on the kind of food I consume now.
I’m a creature that needs habit. The idea of eating the same thing, over and over, for as many meals as I like, is actually quite appealing to me. It means I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat tonight, the answer to which is inevitably “don’t know”, the response to which to go to Tesco and the outcome of which is I buy a load of bad food and booze. A few bags of Huel means I always have something in, which means I never need to go to Tesco, which means I am never tempted. I think I can program myself to replace quite a lot of my meals because it makes my life easier in the aggregate. I have utterly failed in programming myself to develop good eating habits, because they makes my life more complicated. I’m both lazy and pattern-centric. There’s also the benefit that the contents are supremely scientific and measurable, something that also appeals to me. This much Huel equals this many calories. I can experiment with and change the recipe and any additions, but it is all ultimately knowable. I’ll never accidentally have too much salt, or too much sugar, or too much fat, because I know exactly, gram for gram, how much there is of everything in it.
I think eating Huel for a substantial portion of my meals per week will help to re-calibrate my relationship with food. I need to stop food being the thing I do because I’m bored, or lonely, or unhappy, or stressed. I need it to start being the thing I do when I’m happy, socialising, and relaxed. Let Huel, this boring drink, be the thing I eat when I just need to eat because I need to eat. Let me fixate and develop habits around this thing that is actually quite good for me. Let solid food be the happy exception, not the unhappy rule.
Of course this may all fail completely. The experiment begins early next week when I receive my test bag. I’m going to try a week, see how it goes. I really hope it goes well. I want to make food something I don’t have to try to avoid, then fall for, then regret. I want it to be a treat, a social event. I want it to be joyous. At all other times I need purely functional nutrition because I’m on my way to work, or I’m at work, or I’m home alone and don’t have the strength to be virtuous. I don’t for a minute think this will be easy. I know it’s easier for me to avoid temptation completely than try to moderate my resistance to it, but it is still going to be difficult. I shall try to report in on my progress. My hope is that I am able to integrate Huel into my life in some way and rely on it as a worry-free source of nutrition for times when food simply isn’t necessary, making the times when I do eat real food special and social occasions, changing the link I have with it from an emotional crutch to a source of happiness, and improving my health and wellbeing along the way.
I always have high hopes. I’m an optimist. Here’s hoping.